Philadelphia FPAC

Seeking Philadelphia Gardeners Interested in Getting Soil Tested!

Are you a Philadelphia gardener who wants more information about the soil in your garden? Are you thinking about starting a garden or farm on a vacant lot, but you’re not sure if the soil is safe? Your garden or vacant lot may be eligible for FREE soil testing!

The City of Philadelphia received a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to conduct site histories and soil testing on City-owned vacant lots that are suitable for urban agriculture and green stormwater infrastructure projects. This is a great opportunity for gardeners in Philadelphia. The grant team is looking for existing gardens AND vacant lots where there is interest in growing to conduct site histories and soil tests. Click here for more information.

If you would like to suggest a garden or vacant lot to be considered for soil safety support from this grant, please fill out this simple online form.


Food Access Solutions Meeting

On March 4, FPAC joined the Food Fit Philly Coalition’s quarterly meeting on food access solutions. The meeting, which took place at the Free Library of Philadelphia’s beautiful Culinary Literacy Center, was kicked off with an overview of the findings of the recently-published Walkable Access to Healthy Food in Philadelphia report. The Reinvestment Fund’s Donna Leuchten then gave an overview of particular challenges and market conditions faced by urban food retailers, followed by a “Levers of Change” panel which brought together local leaders from The Food Trust, Philadelphia Commerce Department, and Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha. After a break, participants met in small groups to delve deeper into discussions of food retail, SNAP access, and urban farming.

Urban Agriculture Open House Recap

Urban growers play a crucial role in increasing food security and providing sustainable economic opportunities in Philadelphia. On Monday, February 8th, FPAC’s Urban Agriculture Subcommittee hosted a free, family-friendly open house at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to engage voices from the community in its work and raffle off some great prizes.

As the FPAC’s Urban Agriculture subcommittee moves ahead to achieve its goals and plan for the future, your participation is crucial to shaping our policies. The Open House brought together nearly 100 people to learn more and discuss issues of land access, soil safety, and water resources. The feedback on FPAC’s urban agriculture work was a lively discussion and immensely appreciated, which we are currently incorporating into our 2016 goals. We also covered topics from chickens to consolidating land for use of urban agriculture to preservation, youth outreach and involvement as well as how to engage city agencies to support the use of properties for urban agriculture and food production ventures. The FPAC Urban Agriculture subcommittee wants to keep the momentum up with this expanded group of advocates, urban agriculture enthusiasts, gardeners and growers, city officials, and FPAC representatives. There is much work to be done and FPAC intends to be as inclusive as possible to address the issues facing our Philadelphia communities. We need your voices to help influence policies that meet the needs of your neighborhoods. Join the Urban Agriculture Subcommittee monthly on the 3rd Wednesdays of each month. We look forward to seeing you there!

About the Urban Agriculture Subcommittee

FPAC’s Urban Agriculture Subcommittee guides the City of Philadelphia to develop and implement innovative laws and policies to support the conversion of Philadelphia’s vacant and underutilized lands into sustainable community assets that increase food security and sovereignty for all Philadelphia residents. The subcommittee engages diverse stakeholders to inform recommendations and make current policies more transparent.

January 2016 update

Welcome new members

FPAC members voted to approve the nominations of Glenn Bergman and Stephanie Dorenbosch at the December general meeting. Check out their impressive bios and make sure to give them a warm welcome!

RSVP now: Urban Agriculture Open House

The new year is the perfect time to take stock of past accomplishments and set the agenda going forward. To that end, please join FPAC’s Urban Agriculture Subcommittee for an open house on Monday, February 8. Learn more and RSVP.

Deadline Extended: Good Food Catering Survey

Is your business going above and beyond to provide healthy, local, sustainable, and fair food? If so, FPAC wants to hear from you! Please take 10-15 minutes to complete our Good Food Catering Survey to share how you are including health and sustainability in your menus, or fairness and equity in your business.

The survey’s deadline has been extended to January 15. Please share widely!


FPAC member Kathy Fisher, Policy Manager at the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, graciously agreed to speak to the subcommittee about potential ways FPAC can support County Assistance Offices. Kathy provided a thoughtful overview of the challenges and opportunities of improving access to SNAP (food stamps) and left the subcommittee with a lot of food for thought.

Chair: Steveanna Wynn

Good Food Procurement

Good Food Procurement has been pleased to receive dozens of responses to its Good Food Catering Survey. Know any good food providers that would be interested in sharing what they do and reaching City department buyers? Make sure they fill out the survey before January 15.

The subcommittee is also conducting a procurement policy scan, working on testimony for a City Council hearing on green procurement policies, and planning for a good food buyer engagement event for the spring. Meetings take place on the fourth Tuesday of every month from 3-4:30pm.

Chair: Amanda Wagner

Urban Agriculture

Philadelphia Parks & Rec recently hired a Garden Outreach Coordinator to support the subcommittee’s work. The Coordinator will be hosting soil safety workshops and demonstrations for gardeners throughout the city in the springtime, so keep an eye out for updates.

RSVPs are now open for the upcoming Urban Ag Open House, which will help the subcommittee set the agenda for 2016.

Chairs: Nicole Hostettler and Ash Richards

Zero Waste

The Zero Waste Subcommittee is in the process of setting the agenda for 2016. At its last meeting, the subcommittee started exploring possible partnerships with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation to reduce food waste at City-supported meal sites.

The subcommittee has set the third Tuesday of every other month at 4pm as its regular meeting time. Contact Chair Linda Knapp if you’re interested in participating.

Chair: Linda Knapp

Communications & Outreach

Communications & Outreach hosted a Member Media Training at the December general meeting. Pennsylvania Horticulture Society’s Alan Jaffe presented on best practices for messaging and engaging with the media, followed by social media tips and strategies from Green Philly Blog’s Julie Hancher.

Many thanks to both presenters for sharing their expertise with FPAC, as well as FPAC alum Nic Esposito for coordinating a fantastic workshop.

Chair: Madeline Smith-Gibbs

Governance & Membership

In December members voted to approve a set of changes to FPAC’s bylaws, which are now updated on FPAC’s website. At the February general meeting, the subcommittee will present recommended changes to Article 2: Decision-Making Structure. An advance copy will be circulated at least 5 working days before the meeting for members and the general public to review.

Chair: Alison Hastings

November 2015 Update

Check out FPAC’s bi-monthly newsletter here, or read on for updates.

FPAC September 2015 Newsletter

Calling All Good Food Businesses!

Is your business going above and beyond to provide healthy, local, sustainable, and fair food to your customers? If so, FPAC wants to hear from you! Please take 10-15 minutes to complete our Good Food Catering Survey to share how you are including health and sustainability in your menus, or fairness and equity in your business. The survey is open until November 20 and FPAC supporters are encouraged to share it widely.

Volunteers Needed: Waste Watchers at the 2015 Philadelphia Marathon

Last year Philadelphia Marathon ‪Waste Watchers‬ volunteers diverted 6.86 tons of recycling and 2.79 tons of compost from the landfill and had 1 ton of fun. Want to help make this year’s run the greenest yet? Sign up to volunteer now.

Stay in Touch

This newsletter comes out every other month. If you find yourself missing us in the interim, join us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Subcommittee Updates


The subcommittee is finalizing hard copies of its Philly Food Finder resource guide and developing outreach materials. Anti-Hunger is also exploring options for long-term maintenance and bug fixes to If you know a civic-minded developer who’s willing to donate their time, let us know!

At its October meeting the subcommittee reflected on its accomplishments and began goal setting for the next year. Among the ideas explored were analyzing the distribution of neighborhood food resources, facilitating the development of statewide food resource guides, and supporting county assistance offices.

Chair: Steveanna Wynn

Good Food Procurement

Local Food Procurement is now Good Food Procurement! The subcommittee’s name change reflects its commitment to procurement policies that prioritize food that is not only local, but also healthy, fair, and sustainable.

The subcommittee has finalized theGood Food Catering Survey and is now working on distributing it. The survey asks businesses to reflect on what they’re doing to include health and sustainability in their menus, or fairness and equity in their business practices. The subcommittee will use the information gathered from the survey to identify businesses to promote as good food caterers to city departments. The next meeting is being scheduled for early December and will also include planning for additional outreach to City departments and a review of procurement policies in other jurisdictions.

Chair: Amanda Wagner.

Urban Agriculture

Vacant Land has changed its name to Urban Agriculture, to reflect its focus on supporting safe food production on urban land.

At the October 2015 general meeting, FPAC members voted to approve the subcommittee’s Soil Safety and Urban Gardening in Philadelphia report. The report presents research on soil safety practices and recommendations to the City of Philadelphia for supporting urban agriculture projects.

In response to the Philadelphia Land Bank’s recently-released 2015 Progress Report & Strategic Plan Update, the Urban Agriculture Subcommittee drafted testimony which was approved by FPAC members and presented at the Land Bank’s public hearing last week. If you missed the hearing, the testimony is available here.

Co-Chairs: Nicole Hostettler and Ash Richards

Zero Waste

At FPAC’s October 2015 general meeting, members voted to approve the subcommittee’s Zero Waste Recommendations within the Zero Waste Report. The subcommittee is working on incorporating members’ feedback into the report.

Subcommittee Chair Linda Knapp presented the findings of the report to the University of Pennsylvania Solid Waste Management Planning Committee. Linda also presented on October 20 to the Organics Subcommittee of Streets Department’s Solid Waste & Recycling Advisory Committee.

Chair: Linda Knapp

Communications & Outreach

Communications & Outreach would like to thank everyone who took FPAC’s Accessibility Survey! We received dozens of responses and a lot of thoughtful feedback. Subcommittee members will review the responses and report back to FPAC members and co-chairs.

The subcommittee is excited to present a Member Media Training workshop at the December general meeting. Pennsylvania Horticulture Society’s Alan Jaffe and Green Philly Blog’s Julie Hancher will join FPAC members for a discussion of how to work effectively with both traditional and social media.

Chair: Madeline Smith-Gibbs

Governance & Membership

Governance & Membership has received many excellent nominations for new FPAC members, and is looking forward to presenting a slate of nominees at the December general meeting.

The subcommittee is also reviewing changes to FPAC’s bylaws to make them permanent in anticipation of the mayoral administration change, to clarify rules of operation, and to make some changes to meeting structure.

Feedback from October’s general meeting suggested that the proposed transition to monthly meetings would be a time burden on members, regardless of the attendance policy, so the subcommittee is developing an alternative proposal. A draft of the revised bylaws will be distributed by Monday, 11/23.

Chair: Alison Hastings

September 2015 Update

Check out FPAC’s bi-monthly newsletter here, or read on for updates.

FPAC September 2015 Newsletter

Welcome FPAC Class of 2018!

Follow the links to learn more about new members Dominique AubryAllison BlansfieldLeah LazerGeorge Matysik, and Jimmy Wilson.

Next FPAC General Meeting: October 7th

FPAC’s next general meeting will take place on Wednesday, October 7 from 3:00pm to 5:00pm. Please note we will be meeting at a different location, Aramark Building’s Bar Association Conference Room (11th floor of 1101 Market St). Keep an eye out for an email requesting your RSVP in a few weeks.

Register Now: Grounded In Philly Train the Trainers 

FPAC members and supporters are invited to attend this two day train the trainers workshop about accessing vacant land. Participants will leave understanding how to obtain legal access to vacant lots for gardening or farming through various means and how to translate this knowledge to others. Grounded in Philly’s wish is that participants also leave understanding the history of gardening, development and displacement in Philadelphia, and the role that community members play toward self-determination.

Learn more and register.

Stay in Touch

Don’t miss out! Like FPAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and join our LinkedIn group.

Subcommittee Updates


The Anti-Hunger Subcommittee’s Philly Food Finder website, a resource for finding affordable and healthy food in the city, was recently featured by Generocity!

The subcommittee continues to work on hard-copy resource guides, which will be tailored to each councilmatic district. Subcommittee members are developing a distribution matrix with the goal of getting the guide into the hands of people who need it, given limited printing resources.

Chair: Steveanna Wynn.

Vacant Land

FPAC was one of 30 signatories to a letter urging the state Department of Agriculture to declare seed libraries exempt from the requirements of PA’s 2004 Seed Act. As a result of the letter, the PA Department of Agriculture recently reversed its position on seed libraries!

Vacant Land Subcommittee members involved in administering the EPA Brownfields Assessment Grant awarded in May attended the 2015 EPA Brownfields conference last week. They bring back with them new research and ideas on how to implement this grant to support urban agriculture and green stormwater infrastructure.

Chair: Amy Laura Cahn.

Local Food Procurement

The Local Food Procurement Subcommittee is generating a list and educational materials for “Good Food Catering” to provide to City departments for food (under $500) for meetings, events, concessions, and parties. The subcommittee is developing an open application process, including criteria for healthy, sustainable, local, and fair. The subcommittee hopes to disseminate a call for applications from food businesses later this fall, and will consider hosting a “good food showcase” in the spring.

The subcommittee is considering a name change to reflect its broadened mission, so look for a new name in our next newsletter!.

Chair: Amanda Wagner.

Zero Waste

Subcommittee Chair Linda Knapp and John Christopher, Penn Summer 2014 Intern, have been invited to present the Zero Waste White Paper draft at UPenn.  The report is being finalized and will be sent to FPAC members for review prior to the October 7 FPAC meeting.  Linda has also been asked by the Solid Waste and Recycling Advisory Council (SWRAC) to provide the group with an overview of the Zero Waste White Paper and subcommittee activities.

Sign up to volunteer for Waste Watchers at the 2015 Philadelphia Marathon is now live.

Chair: Linda Knapp.

Communications & Outreach

At the August meeting the subcommittee reviewed a draft report of recommendations for increasing inclusion and diversity among FPAC’s membership, meetings, and programmatic work. This research is ongoing; contact Madeline if you have ideas or resources.

Chair: Madeline Smith-Gibbs.

Governance & Membership

In October FPAC members will elect a new co-chair, as Diane Cornman-Levy is finishing her two-year term. Nominations, including self-nominations, can be made by emailing Governance & Membership chair Alison Hastings.

The subcommittee is also seeking membership nominations to fill a projected four to ten openings on FPAC. Nominations are open year-round and the nomination form can be found on FPAC’s website.

A Waste Watchers Weekend

What a beautiful weekend to kick off the month of May! This past weekend, Waste Watchers participated in back to back events with the Science Carnival and Broad Street Run. For anyone who is unfamiliar, the Waste Watchers Initiative is a partnership between the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service. The Waste Watchers initiative helps events divert waste from the landfill by educating event-goers and helping them sort their waste into compost, recycling, and trash.

On Saturday, Waste Watchers partnered with the Science Carnival to help educate attendees about recycling and composting, and help divert waste! Our wonderful volunteers kept a tally of their bags throughout the day. Out of 149 bags of waste, 110 bags were diverted into recycling or compost—that’s around 75% of the total waste! Thank you to our Waste Watchers volunteers. Without you, everything would have gone straight to the landfill.

On Sunday, the Waste Watchers team spent the day at the Broad Street Run . The Broad Street Run is unique in that the start and finish areas are at opposite ends of the city, which is great for the runners, as the route doesn’t repeat itself, but it can be a logistical challenge for race planners and coordinators. Waste Watchers had volunteers set up at the start area, along the route at water stops, and the finish to ensure as much waste diversion as possible. Our volunteers did a fantastic job helping the 40,000+ runners and spectators sort their waste to help Broad Street Run be as sustainable as possible.

Thanks to everyone who made Waste Watchers possible this past weekend! Check out some of our Waste Watchers in action:



A Waste Watcher volunteer hangs out at a station during Science Carnival



Waste diversion at a Broad Street Run water stop


Compostable cups from one of the Broad Street Run water stops




FPAC Is Hiring!

FPAC Hiring

FPAC seeks a Food Policy Advisory Council Coordinator to serve with FPAC from July 2015 to July 2016 at the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. The FPAC Coordinator is responsible for coordinating FPAC projects and working with FPAC members to drive the Council’s work forward. The Coordinator will also be a member of the SERVE Philadelphia VISTA Corps administered through the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service.

Click here for a detailed job description and information on how to apply.




Recap: Food Policy and the Next Mayor Forum

On Sunday, April 12th, FPAC hosted Philadelphia Food Policy and the Next Mayor Forum at the Philly Farm and Food Fest. First of all, thanks to everyone who planned and participated in the informative and productive forum, including FPAC members, mayoral candidates, Forum attendees, and volunteers. FPAC members planned the entire event with support from Drexel University, The Enterprise Center CDC, Fair Food Philadelphia, Federation of Neighborhood Centers, Merck Family Fund, St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children, the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, and the Philly Farm and Food Fest.

The idea of holding a forum grew out of the FPAC long-term strategic planning committee. FPAC members began meeting in summer 2014 to think about continuing FPAC’s work during and beyond the upcoming administration change. Members worked together to create a policy platform, FPAC – A Philadelphia Food Policy Road Map which was unveiled at the Forum. The document outlines:

  • 20 facts about the Philadelphia food system;
  • 10 challenges and opportunities facing the Philadelphia food system; and
  • Recommendations to support the food system and improve the health of all Philadelphians.

While working on the policy platform, members began considering how to share this information with the general public.  Members decided to host a mayoral candidate forum to raise these issues Philadelphians and the future leadership of Philadelphia in the same room.

Each of the mayoral candidates had the opportunity to discuss their views on food policy in Philadelphia, and then responded to predetermined questions based on one of the recommendations from the policy platform. Forum attendees were invited to ask questions via twitter using the hashtag #phillyfpac.

The Forum was a success, hosting six mayoral candidates and As Philadelphia looks ahead to a new administration, food policy is a priority issue that deserves attention because it affects all Philadelphians. FPAC is thrilled that the next administration will support our mission and vision for a healthy Philadelphia food system.

Check out some photos from the Forum below, and the policy platform A Philadelphia Food Policy Road Map.

Food Policy Platform


FPAC Co-Chair Diane Cornman-Levy kicks off the forum with an introduction

FPAC Co-Chair Diane Cornman-Levy kicks off the forum with an introduction

Candidate Melissa Murray Bailey and moderator Jon Deutsch listen to a question from the audience

Candidate Melissa Murray Bailey and moderator Jon Deutsch listen to a question from the audience

Candidate Lynne Abraham discusses her views on food policy in Philadelphia

Candidate Lynne Abraham discusses her views on food policy in Philadelphia

Candidate Nelson Diaz speaks to Forum attendees

Candidate Nelson Diaz speaks to Forum attendees

Candidate Anthony Williams discusses food systems issues in Philadelphia

Candidate Anthony Williams discusses food systems issues in Philadelphia

Claire Richardson from the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger poses a question to candidate Jim Kenney

Claire Richardson from the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger poses a question to candidate Jim Kenney

Candidate Doug Oliver chats with attendees after the forum

Candidate Doug Oliver chats with attendees after the forum

How To: Testing the Readability of Your Documents

FPAC recently found out about an awesome tool hidden in Microsoft Word that few of our friends know about. This tool will score the readability of your document based on U.S. grade reading levels. FPAC values equity and accessibility, and this tool has helped us make some of our documents more accessible to the public. We know our friends are interested in using this tool, so we’re sharing how to test the readability of your documents here!

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